The European Parliament had devolved into "stupidity," Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. said on Monday, with a resolution adopted by 626 out of its 685 members threatening to withdraw tariff-exempt privileges on the Philippines for alleged human rights violations.
“The European Union has gone down to the level of deciding for us. They have descended on the level of stupidity,” said Locsin, adding that he is willing to defend the country's human-rights record with the European Union.
At the hearing of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ proposed P21-billion budget for 2021 at the House of Representatives, Locsin said he will not exclude the country from the debate on its human rights situation.
“I can stand on the human rights credentials of the Philippines. I am not afraid of them. I can face them. I will not excuse them from the debate,” he said.
On September 17, the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to address what it believes to be widespread and systematic drug-related killings and suppression on press freedom.
The resolution also expressed concern over what it described as “a deteriorating press freedom in the Philippines” as seen in the charges filed against journalist and Rappler Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa, Congress’s denial of the franchise to operate of ABS-CBN, and the continued detention of Duterte critic Sen. Leila de Lima.
Ressa is facing libel charges filed by a businessman, while de Lima is detained on illegal drugs charges.
Congressmen have said press freedom is not involved in the ABS-CBN case since its news and public affairs division are merely adjuncts of its entertainment department, and thus while it delivers news and airs public affairs programs, it is operating more like an entertainment outfit.
In addition, congressmen said the owners of ABS-CBN have been using the “power” of the broadcast network to secure concessions from the government.
The European Parliament also pushed for the revocation of the tariff exemption on a number of the country's exports.
The European lawmakers, Locsin said, based their actions on the claims made by President Rodrigo Duterte’s foes and critics and not on facts.
“They can say anything they want. It is a free world. But they will not affect our internal affairs,” he added.
“They are discrediting themselves by picking out nonsensical issues. I stand with our President who is fighting the worst scourge: the scourge of illegal drugs,” he added.